Champion Leon Haslam survived a crash-filled first Bennetts British Superbike race of the day today as just over half the grid finished the race.
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider fended off Tommy Bridewell and Jason O’Halloran in the closing laps as he took his first Kawasaki win at Brands Hatch.
Andrew Irwin grabbed a lightning start from the front row as champ Leon Haslam slipped ahead of Bridewell and Jake Dixon. But moments into the race, FS-3 Racing Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan binned it at Hawthorne just as O’Halloran grabbed the lead at the front.
And just three laps in, Be Wiser Ducati’s younger Irwin brother crashed out of second at Graham Hill bend with a high-side as a fine but frantic drizzle of rain continued to fall. Meanwhile, the front four began to break away from fifth-placed Josh Brookes, the lone McAMS Yamaha on the grid after Taz Mackenzie’s warm-up crash put him out of the race.
Back at the front, Haslam continued to hunt for the win as he slid up the inside of O’Halloran to take the lead at Paddock Hill, while Moto Rapido Ducati’s Bridewell followed him through at Hawthorn’s to take second from the Aussie.
Bridewell wasn’t finished yet, however, and he nudged Haslam back to second at the same corner Haslam passed him the very next time around as Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon caught up to fourth-placed Dixon.
A couple of laps later, Haslam levered Bridewell aside at Dingle Dell to take the lead just as Fraser Rogers, who had been running in ninth, destroyed his Gearlink Kawasaki with a big crash at Paddock Hill.
And Gino Rea followed him into the dirt moments later at Clarke Curve as he dumped his OMG Racing Suzuki just before Joe Francis crashed out of the points on the Lloyd and Jones Bowker Motorrad BMW along the Cooper Straight.
As the leaders crossed the half-way mark, there was a shuffle in the top three as Bridewell dropped down to third, while Haslam and O’Halloran continued dicing at the front.
The crashing continued as Anvil Hire TAG Racing’s James Ellison crashed out at Paddock Hill just after catching up to the top six while Michael Laverty simultaneously binned it at Stirlings. And while Dixon took the lead at the front, he too hit the deck at Clearways and put paid to his charge for victory.
While O’Halloran, Haslam and Bridewell broke well clear of the chasing pack, the 2018 champion pulled a gap with a couple of laps to go and held on to grab his first Kawasaki win at Brands as Bridewell held off O’Halloran to take second.
Buildbase Suzuki’s Richard Cooper took a lone fourth ahead of Iddon and Smith’s Racing man Peter Hickman, while the lone PBM bike of Glenn Irwin bagged seventh.
Bradley Ray, Brookes and OMG Racing Suzuki’s Josh Elliott completed the top 10.